Niseko lift upgrade set to increase capacity by 30%
Niseko Grand Hirafu resort has revealed plans to begin major lift upgrades, a response to a rapidly growing number of international visitors and mounting pressure for better crowd control.
The King Hooded Triple Lift #3 will be the first lift line to undergo renovation, with construction scheduled to start at the conclusion of the 2015/16 season. It will be upgraded to a high-speed quad and moved 130 metres down the hill to allow a more convenient connection with the Hirafu Gondola.
The upgrade is set to increase the lift’s capacity – currently at 1800 people/hour – by up to 30%, and will be complete in time for the 2016/17 season.
The revised starting point will also make the new chairlift accessible from the top of the King Quad Lift #2 – a lift that has been kept closed for most of the season over the last few years. An artist rendering posted on the Niseko Grand Hirafu Facebook page suggests that this might change once the new lift is up and running.
Niseko Grand Hirafu has indicated that its next priority will be the renovation of the Ace Family Pair Lift, which services the ever-popular Family run. The lift is expected to be upgraded to a triple or quad, though no time frame has been made clear at this point.
As one of the resort’s most accommodating beginner runs, The Family run attracts a huge amount of traffic from novice skiers and snowboarders. It is also lined with several large ski-in ski-out hotels which add to the congestion, particularly over peak holiday periods and during high traffic times of the day.
Niseko Grand Hirafu will have an added incentive to improve traffic flow in this area of the resort, with luxury ski-in ski-out hotel AYA Niseko set to open its doors to the public in 2016. AYA Niseko has awarded hotel management responsibilities to Tokyu Snow Resort, operator of Niseko Grand Hirafu resort, so there won’t be any surprises if this lift upgrade happens sooner rather than later!